Christmas Celebrations in Finland

Finnish people believe that Santa Claus or Father Christmas lives in the north part of Finland called Korvatunturi (or Lapland), north of the Arctic Circle. People from all over the world send letters to Santa Claus in Finland. There is a big tourist theme park called ‘Christmas Land’ in the north of Finland, near to where they say that Father Christmas lives.

It means that Santa doesn’t have far to travel on Christmas Eve to deliver presents to people in Finland! If he doesn’t get a chance to deliver the presents personally, he will often leave them under the Christmas Tree.

In Finland, Santa might also be known as Joulupukki! (This really means ‘Christmas Goat’ as it was traditional in Finland that there was a Yule Goat who was scary and asked people for presents – and certainly didn’t give any out! Over time the goat became the gift giver and then Santa took over the gift giving duties but the name of the Christmas Goat was still retained in Finland!) Joulupukki rides with reindeer leaves gifts under the Christmas tree but if you have been naughty you could end up with a bag of coal!

In Finnish Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Hyvää joulua’. In North-Sami, spoken in northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, it’s ‘Buorit Juovllat’.Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.

Everyone tries to be at home for Christmas, including fishermen who try to get their boats into the harbour by December 21st, St. Thomas’ Day

Animals are given their own Christmas in Finland, with farmers sometimes hanging a sheaf of wheat on a tree to be eaten and pecked at by the birds. Nuts and pieces of suet are also hung on trees in bags from the branches.

Everyone cleans their houses ready for the three holy days of Christmas – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.

On Christmas Eve, or the day before, Christmas trees are bought from the local market or square. The seller expects you to bargain with them on the price.

Christmas Eve is very special and the most important day over Christmas. It’s traditional to eat rice porridge and plum fruit juice for breakfast. Then the tree is bought (if it hasn’t been already) and is decorated. At midday, the ‘peace of Christmas’ is broadcast on radio and TV by the City Mayor of Turku (which is south Finland).

Because it gets dark very in most parts of Finland around Christmas (about 3.00pm) it’s now traditional to go cemeteries and visit the graves of family members. Some cemeteries are enormous and police are on duty to manage the traffic, but everyone must walk the last few yards to the grave. Candles in hanging lanterns are left around the grave, often lots of family members go. The whole cemetery is alight with glowing lanterns shining in the snow – a winter wonderland.

The main Christmas meal is eaten in the early evening. Lutefish (salt fish) is the traditional starter, but is not so common nowadays. The main meal is a leg of pork served with mashed potato traditionally baked slowly in birch-bark boxes in the oven with similarly cooked mashed swede. Casseroles containing different vegetables including, rutabaga, carrot and potato are also common. Cured salmon is very popular and some people also have turkey. Desert is baked rice pudding/porridge eaten with spiced plum jam. One almond is hidden in the pudding. Whoever find the almond will be lucky for the next year.

After the meal, Joulupukki (Santa) might visit the house! When he comes in with his sack he asks if any children are living there. They reply very loudly! Next then asks if they have been good all through the year. When they are given their presents the whole family gathers to watch the fun of opening. After opening some presents, it’s time to go to bed – but some people like to stay up all night to see Christmas Day arrive!

Christmas Day is much quieter with families usually spending it quietly at home. On Boxing Day people like to go out. Skiing is popular along the flat terrain or skating if the lake or river has frozen.

Christmas in Finland can be memorable for visitors because Finnish yuletide traditions are very different from many other countries and regions in the world. Finnish traditions can have some similarities with neighboring Scandinavian countries and some traditions are shared among other Christian households around the world, including in the U.S.

The first Sunday in December—also called the First Advent—starts the Finnish Christmas season. Many children use advent calendars that count down the remaining days to Christmas Eve. Advent calendars come in many forms from a simple paper calendar with flaps covering each of the days to fabric pockets on a background scene to painted wooden boxes with cubby holes for small items.

Candles, Christmas Trees, and Cards

December 13 is St. Lucia Day, otherwise known as the Feast of Saint Lucy. Saint Lucia was a 3rd-century martyr who brought food to Christians in hiding. She used a candle-lit wreath to light her way, leaving her hands free to carry as much food as possible. In Finland, the day is celebrated with lots of candles and formal celebrations in every Finnish town. Traditionally, the eldest girl in the family portrays St. Lucia, donning a white robe and a crown of candles. She serves her parents buns, cookies, coffee, or mulled wine.

Much like the end of Thanksgiving is the signal for Americans to start Christmas celebrations, Saint Lucia Day is usually the day that Finns begin to start Christmas tree shopping and decorating. Families and friends also begin to exchange Christmas cards at this time.

Relaxing, Remembering, and Feasting

Traditions on Christmas Eve in Finland include going to a Christmas mass if you are Catholic and a visit to a Finnish sauna. Many Finnish families also visit cemeteries to remember lost loved ones. They often have a porridge for lunch—with a hidden almond in it—where the person who gets it has to sing a song and is considered the luckiest person at the table.

Christmas dinner is served in Finland, between 5 and 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve. The meal traditionally consists of oven-baked ham, rutabaga casserole, beetroot salad, and other foods common in the Nordic countries.

Christmas Eve in Finland is filled with the bright sounds of carols and local Christmas songs. Santa Claus, called Joulupukki in Finnish, generally visits most houses on Christmas Eve to give presents—at least to those who have been good. People in Finland say that Santa does not have to travel too far since they believe that he lives in the north part of Finland called Korvatunturi (or Lapland), north of the Arctic Circle. People from all over the world send letters to Santa Claus in Finland. There is a big tourist theme park called Christmas Land in the north of Finland, near where they say Father Christmas lives.

And the Celebration Continues

Christmas in Finland does not officially end until 13 days after Christmas Day, which makes the holiday time truly a season, as opposed to a single-day celebration. Finns start wishing each other a hearty Hyvää Joulua, or “Merry Christmas,” weeks before Christmas day and continue to do so for nearly two weeks after the official holiday.

A TRUE NORTHERN CHRISTMAS

Everyone knows Santa Claus comes from Finland, but there’s more to a traditional Finnish Christmas than Saint Nick and the presents he brings. During the festive season, Finns like to take things slow and enjoy the company of loved ones.

The natural atmosphere is a key element for a true Finnish Christmas. White landscapes enshrouded in darkness, only lit by the stars in the sky and ice lanterns on driveways set the mood for a soothingly cosy festive season. As for most, Christmas preparations in Finland start by deciding where to spend it. The family home is often preferred, but occasionally some jazzing up is in order and a villa or a cottage might be rented in the countryside. Obviously, food plays a central part in Christmas celebrations in Finland, too. Pork roast is the main dish in most households and a variety of fish, casseroles and salads are served with it. The most authentic Christmas Eve breakfast is rice pudding. After a couple of Christmas ales, carols are sung with gusto. At the end of the night a Christmas sauna relaxes both body and soul.

Christmas has passed now time to ring to happy new year 2021

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Wishing all readers Merry Christmas 2020 & Happy New Year 2021 !!!